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Conservative think tank firebombed


By: Brianna Kraemer

Carolina Journal


Three Minnesota conservative organizations were set ablaze last Sunday in what federal officials are investigating as a deliberate act of arson, and the Center of the American Experiment calls an act of political terrorism.


Offices just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota belonging to the three politically conservative organizations were destroyed in a suspected arson attack in the middle of the night. Images of the aftermath show scorched hallways from floor to ceiling, leaving the office spaces inoperable, while other offices in the same building remained untouched.



The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) continues to investigate the crime for arson, but the three organization – the Center of the American Experiment, the Upper Midwest Law Center and TakeCharge – have noted their one common denominator: they are all politically conservative groups. Many other companies, such as psychologists, chiropractors, and financial advisors, work in the same office building, but those spaces were not targeted. 


“They specifically targeted the three conservative groups that are located in this building,” said John Hinderaker, the president of the Center of the American Experiment. Fires were set on the first and third floors of the building specifically where the conservative offices were located.


One of the three groups, Take Charge, is a nonprofit focused on countering the prevailing narrative that America is structured to undermine the lives of black Americans. The organization revealed it has received hate mail since the arson attack that has called the staff ‘fascists’ and other derogatory words. 


“It is extremely concerning that we may have been the target of an arson attack, constituting an act of domestic terrorism,” Kendall Qualls, president of TakeCharge, told the Associated Press.


“Regardless of the attacks, we’ll continue to educate all Americans on the truth Progressives want to keep hidden from public view,” the organization wrote. “We were targeted because we are a conservative black organization and we refuse to trumpet the mantra of systemic racism and march to the beat of the DEI drum.”


The two other groups attacked, the Upper Midwest Law Center and the Center of the American Experiment, are part of the nationwide State Policy Network (SPN). SPN is a 50-state network of state-level think tanks and nonprofits that promote freedom, individual rights and local governance. The John Locke Foundation (JLF) in North Carolina is also part of SPN. As affiliates, JLF and American Experiment have worked together closely on special projects in the past. 


In 2021, the American Experiment conducted energy modeling on behalf of JLF in a report titled, “Energy Crossroads: Exploring North Carolina’s Two Energy Futures.” In addition to writing three reports on North Carolina energy policy, the two teams recently evaluated the role of nuclear power for customers of Duke Energy in North Carolina and Xcel Energy in Minnesota. 


According to a Princeton report on political violence data and trends during the 2020 election, Minnesota and North Carolina were two swing states that saw more contentious activity than expected based on their populations. 


“North Carolina recorded contentious demonstrations above the population predicted average in the lead-up to the election, including above average counter-protests ahead of the election and throughout the year (March 4 to November 3),” the report states.“Local events were partial drivers of this higher level of contentious events in North Carolina.”


Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022, the North Carolina Republican Party offices in Raleigh were vandalized with threats of violence. Graffiti on the headquarters’ brick wall read, “If abortion isn’t safe neither R you.” Less than one month out from the 2016 presidential election, a local Republican Party office in Orange County was firebombed and vandalized with graffiti. The words “Nazi Republicans get out of town or else” were spray-painted on an outside wall with a swastika.



As 2024 promises to be a heated year in the political realm, political attacks remain a heightened concern. A recent analysis from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warns about the potential threats as the November election approaches. The federal assessment, obtained by ABC News, cautions that threat actors “may seek to engage in or provoke violence at voting locations, government facilities, public meetings, ballot drop box locations, or private-sector vendor locations that support elections.”


The ATF St.Paul Field Division said they have been making steady progress in their investigation of the suspected arson, though they aren’t prepared to release additional information at this time. For now, American Experiment staff members are working remotely while arrangements are made for alternate office space. 


“This firebombing will not slow us down — American Experiment’s work for freedom is not dependent on a bricks-and-mortar location,” Hinderaker declared.

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